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CSMA Striped Bass- A Put and Too ManyTake Fishery

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Rick Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 06 August 2018 at 1:57pm
Originally posted by kshivar kshivar wrote:

Despicable that he did not reply. He is a public servant. He is clearly cut from the same cloth as the rest of anti-sustainable practices leaders at DMF. Nothing says ‘I don’t care what you think’ like no reply.

While a brief reply would be nice, I don't expect one...I know the Division is reading and listeningWink.  Really, they are.  I've been told by "friends" that they are spending more time than they like trying to figure out how to "reply" to my emails. 

That could be good or bad...time will tell.

While the Director's honeymoon is over for me, I hear his heart is in the right place and would like to do what's right...man... has that needle been stuck in the same groove for about eight years that I've been listening to that song.  Someone bump the machine so it skips to the next groove.  Let's finish playing this song, good or bad, I'm tired of dancing in circles.   (Analogy-Phonographs and vinyl records for you youngsters... and oldsters that remember.)  As a good friend told me today, you may eat an elephant one bite at a time that is unless he puts his foot on you and holds you there until you die. 




Edited by Rick - 06 August 2018 at 2:30pm
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Rick Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 06 August 2018 at 4:10pm
Let's remember that the Director was given proclamation authority by the Commission under the Estuarine Striped Bass FMP-

Something is only "powerful" if you are willing to use it-

General Statute 143B-289.52 allows the NCMFC to delegate the authority to implement its regulations for fisheries “which may be affected by variable conditions” to the Director of the NCDMF who may then issue public notices called “proclamations”.  Thus, North Carolina has a very powerful and flexible legal basis governing coastal fisheries management. 

North Carolina Rules for Coastal Fishing Waters – 15A NCAC 15A NCAC 03H .0103 PROCLAMATION AUTHORITY OF FISHERIES DIRECTOR
(a)  The proclamation authority granted to the Fisheries Director by the Marine Fisheries Commission within this Chapter includes the authority to close as well as open seasons and areas, to establish conditions governing various activities, and to reduce or increase the size and harvest limits from those stated in rule when specifically authorized.  It is unlawful to violate the provisions of any proclamation issued by the authority of Marine Fisheries Commission Rule.

(b)  Unless specific variable conditions are set forth in a rule granting proclamation authority to the Fisheries Director, variable conditions triggering the use of the Fisheries Director's proclamation authority may include any of the following: compliance with changes mandated by the Fisheries Reform Act and its amendments, biological impacts, environmental conditions, compliance with Fishery Management Plans, user conflicts, bycatch issues and variable spatial distributions. 
Please, someone explain to me how the CSMA Striped Bass Fishery is not in violation of FRA-97...this fishery is both overfished and has overfishing occurring.

Sustainable harvest is defined in the FRA as “The amount of fish that can be taken from a fishery on a continuing basis without reducing the stock biomass of the fishery or causing the fishery to become overfished”.
 
Overfished is defined as “The condition of a fishery that occurs when the spawning stock biomass of the fishery is below the level that is adequate for the recruitment class of a fishery to replace the spawning class of the fishery”.
 
Overfishing is defined as “Fishing that causes a level of mortality that prevents a fishery from producing a sustainable harvest”.




 
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote bakesta Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 06 August 2018 at 6:44pm
CSMA Striped bass are the poster child for DMF's effort to protect commercial fishing.  They've even spent money to do a study to try to refute the one by the WRC (it didn't).Angry



These fish are also a true symbol of the MFC being unwilling to do anything at all.  They just keep wringing their hands and saying - "we MIGHT not be allowed".Confused





  



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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Rick Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 02 October 2018 at 11:16am
Fast closing in on 3-Years of effort to get the NCDMF/NCMFC to do what is right for the CSMA (Stocked) Striped Bass Fishery.

The 2018/2019 recreational fishing season opened Oct 1-



These are the regs for the 2018/2019 Rec Season in the CSMA-




If you get time tonight at 7PM, you might listen to this-

Ben Ricks is one of the experts on the CSMA, along with Kyle Rachels and Chad Thomas.  Ben has been involved in much of the very credible research listed/referenced in this thread.






Edited by Rick - 02 October 2018 at 4:25pm
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote 23Mako Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 03 October 2018 at 8:09am
Anyone tune in? I don't do facebook. 
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Rick Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 03 October 2018 at 8:19am
Originally posted by 23Mako 23Mako wrote:

Anyone tune in? I don't do facebook. 
 

You can watch here-


Great video with Ben. We have to let some of those immature females grow to become "egg buses" heading upstream to spawn in the spring...hence the WRC going to a 26" size limit . Huge importance- Ben talked about a recent natural spawn, a rarity in this almost 100% stocked fishery. That natural year class of fish must be protected from "cryptic mortality"...gillnet mortality, both directed and non-directed regulatory discards.  Doing so will place more and larger females on the spawning grounds.  This will be a real jump-start for recovering the fishery. 

The MFC may be voting in November to take action in joint and coastal waters to help. 

Please help nudge that action- make a few call or emails.




Edited by Rick - 03 October 2018 at 8:23am
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote chriselk Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 03 October 2018 at 11:15am
I commend the WRC for going to the larger size limit. However, only 2% of the Striped Bass are caught in Inland waters where this rule is in effect.  It needs to be applied elsewhere, along with other rules that have been discussed.

Thanks to Ben and the others for their work on this very contentious issue.
The above comments are my personal opinion and do not represent those of any organizations or agencies I may be a member of.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote dead_fowl Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 17 October 2018 at 8:14am
This essentially shuts down the rec fishery in the Pamlico and a good chunk of the Pungo.


Absolutely Ridiculous.




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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote chriselk Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 17 October 2018 at 8:41am
Its only one small measure needed to achieve a self-sustaining population, the objective of the FMP.  If its combined with the removal of gill nets above the ferries, it would allow fish to reach spawning age.

I am told that both of these will options in a near future supplement, finally.

As for shutting down the rec fishery.  It would make it a catch and release only (due to few large fish) for a couple of years until these fish recruit into the fishery.  There are age/size graphs if you look.  Currently "cyrptic mortlaity" accounts for the overwhelming failure of these fish to reach sexual maturity. The major factors are dead discards in other fisheries (primarily Southern flounder) and striped bass directed gill nets where the quota is 25,000 lbs (Neuse and Tar/Pamlico).  The dead discards are what is killing this fishery.

If only the above rec size rule is implemented, it will only increase dead discards and will not bring back the SB.  


The above comments are my personal opinion and do not represent those of any organizations or agencies I may be a member of.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Rick Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 17 October 2018 at 8:44am
Absolutely, it is ridiculous!

The recreational angler is paying for a stocked fishery while bearing 100% of the burden to help this fishery meet the goals and objectives of the Fishery Management Plan.  The commercial sector continues to harvest immature stocked fish contributing to 80%+ of the mortality in this fishery.  The commercial mortality is preventing establishing a spawning stock biomass of adequate size and age to recover the fishery.




Edited by Rick - 17 October 2018 at 8:47am
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Down East Guide Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 17 October 2018 at 8:56pm

Anyone still here?  I was having this conversation with someone today, so cut and paste is easy.   

Striped bass in the Neuse River will never recover for these two reasons:

1)      Bycatch of unattended gill nets and large mesh nets in the Neuse River

 But even if the nets were eliminated…..

 2)      Neuse River (low flow system) has been stocked with brood stock sourced from the Roanoke River (high flow system).  These Roanoke River strain of striped bass will not consistently, successfully spawn in a low flow system like the Neuse.  Furthermore, when they do successfully spawn, they only pollute the gene pool of the native Neuse River strain striped bass.  

 By stocking Roanoke River sourced fish the NCWRC has created a put and take fishery, they need to manage as a put and take fishery not for restoration.

 

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote TomM Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 17 October 2018 at 9:13pm
And your database for this comes from where? If they don’t spawn then how do they change the gene pool?

Edited by TomM - 17 October 2018 at 9:15pm
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Rick Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 17 October 2018 at 10:00pm
Originally posted by Down East Guide Down East Guide wrote:

Anyone still here?  I was having this conversation with someone today, so cut and paste is easy.   

Striped bass in the Neuse River will never recover for these two reasons:

1)      Bycatch of unattended gill nets and large mesh nets in the Neuse River

 But even if the nets were eliminated…..

 2)      Neuse River (low flow system) has been stocked with brood stock sourced from the Roanoke River (high flow system).  These Roanoke River strain of striped bass will not consistently, successfully spawn in a low flow system like the Neuse.  Furthermore, when they do successfully spawn, they only pollute the gene pool of the native Neuse River strain striped bass.  

 By stocking Roanoke River sourced fish the NCWRC has created a put and take fishery, they need to manage as a put and take fishery not for restoration. 

 

We must remove gillnets from the Neuse and Pamlico Rivers to stop cryptic mortality.  All credible biologists agree that must happen or the stock will never have a chance at recovery.

If there is no chance at recovery, there is no place for commercial harvest in a put-grow-take fishery.

Either way- gillnets have to go.

The Neuse was stocked with Roanoke River genetics for thirty years- actual broodstock pulled from the Roanoke. The thought of a "pure strain" of Neuse River striped bass contributing to the gene pool is highly remote given the above and the current age structure of the fishery- very few fish over Age-5.  However, on that remote chance that such a pure gene pool exists, endemic hatchery spawning stock has been pulled from both the Tar and the Neuse for stocking purposes since 2012- pulled off the spawning grounds.  Maybe that is working.  There seems to have been a "sweet spot" of a natural spawn that added fish to the system last year- maybe it was just an anomaly that further "polluted" a basically non-existent gene pool of pure Neuse River strain striped bass.  

What is certain, those extra fish will disappear in this season's gillnet fisheries.

There have been fry released well upstream with the intent to develop natal homing.

There is discussion of pulling broodstock from another river with flow characteristics similar to the Neuse.

Bottom line-  The FMP is a complete failure that must be addressed honestly and sooner rather than later.

This is the presentation the WRC put together for the public comment process during the proposed reg change in Inland Waters to 26"-


The post below was made in April 2016 addressing several of the issues above-


Originally posted by Rick Rick wrote:

I posted this on another fishing site last week.  It is my personal understanding and belief of the issues affecting this fishery.  The facts and my opinions were developed over the last eighteen months spending numerous hours reading all available reports and personally talking with numerous people in state and federal agencies and within academia.

Let's have a frank discussion about CSMA (All waters south of Roanoke Island). I'd like to hear from the guys fishing the Neuse, Tar, Pamlico, Pungo, Bay, Pantego, etc. areas. Obviously other opinions will be great, but I'd really like to hear from the guys that recreational fish, operate a guide service or run a tackle business.

At this time the Cape Fear has a harvest moratorium, 100% recreational catch and release only with no legal commercial harvest.

The general consensus is the Central Southern Management Area (CSMA) has become close to a 100% put-grow-take fishery. Both the Tar and Neuse Rivers are considered closed systems with little immigration or emigration. Research shows there is almost zero exchange of fish with the Atlantic Migratory Stock. Data shows a minor exchange of fish into the CSMA from the Roanoke/Albemarle system. These are fish that mainly enter the CSMA from the Croatan and Roanoke Sounds or come down the ICW from the Alligator River into the Pungo.

The USFWS Edenton Hatchery is supplying the fingerlings for stocking the Neuse and Tar. The intent has been to stock 100,000 Phase II (5" - 7") fish annually in each river. During good hatchery production years there have been as many as 300,000 excess production Phase I fish stocked. Stocking has been going on for thirty years.

Stocking source for the Neuse and Tar came from Roanoke River genetics up until 2012. In 2012 both rivers switched to native brood stock, Neuse to Neuse and Tar to Tar. This change was based on research that showed that egg characteristics such as flotation were unique to each spawning system. Eggs have evolved on a high-flow river like the Roanoke to have less flotation and eggs on a low flow or tidal system have more flotation.

There is little to no measurable successful spawning and recruitment occurring on the Neuse and Tar. There are many factors causing this but three factors that can be controlled with immediate action are 1) Using endemic brood stock-Done. 2) Stocking smaller fish (fry) with the hope that the imprinting mechanism within the brain can still be engaged. 3) Stocking those smaller fish (fry) upstream so that the imprinting mechanism brings them back to the areas of prime spawning ground.

The current stocking of older Phase II fish in the lower coastal river portions of the Tar and Neuse leads to high survival rates but may be preventing imprinting for successful annual migration to the spawning areas.

Due to 30 years of stocking Roanoke River genetics, the likelihood of a pure strain native population of Neuse or Tar River fish is doubtful. There may be successful wild spawning occurring but the level is so low that it will not support successful recruitment. Mortality in the fish world is extremely high. Millions of eggs are put down so that a few survive. The current biomass is insufficient to support a sustainable population. Age of the population is a problem. Considering that a striped bass can live to be thirty years old, the truncated age structure (top cut off) caused by mortality is limiting the spawning potential ratio as may be imprinting problems.

In 2014, NCWRC electrofishing on the Neuse found that 82% of the population is age-5 or less and that 91% of the population is age-6 or less. Only 60% of the females are mature at age-4 with a 100% mature at age-5. Virgin females spawning for the first time do not produce viable eggs when compared to older fish. The age structure must be expanded so as to include older highly fecund (fertile) females. Biologists say that we need nine year old fish on the spawning grounds.

We now know that the existing wild stock is no more than 7% at best and some biologist feel the fishery is approaching 100% stocked fish. It is now clear that the importance of hatchery stocked fish and the age structure of the population undermines the fundamental management goals of the North Carolina Estuarine Striped Bass Fishery Management Plan (FMP).

"The goals of Amendment 1 to the North Carolina Estuarine Striped Bass FMP are to achieve sustainable harvest through science based decision-making processes that conserve adequate spawning stock, provide and maintain a broad age structure, and protect the integrity of critical habitats." North Carolina Estuarine Striped Bass Fishery Management Plan- page 1

The goal of USFWS in stocking these rivers was to supplement an existing stock to improve the chances of successful spawning creating a sustainable spawning stock biomass.

"Specific objectives for stocking striped bass into coastal river systems include attempts to increase spawning stock abundance while promoting self-sustaining population levels appropriate for various habitats and ecosystems." North Carolina Estuarine Striped Bass Fishery Management Plan- page 301

A pure put-grow-take fishery does not fit into the long-term plans of the USFWS. If that is the goal of this fishery, then the NCWRC will probably end up needing to provide the stocked fingerlings which will move the source from the Edenton National Hatchery to the Watha State Hatchery. Watha does not have excess capacity to stock the Neuse and Tar. Watha is currently stocking the Cape Fear.

If stocking on the Neuse and Tar stops, this fishery will collapse in about two years. Within five to six years, finding a striped bass in the Neuse and Tar will be a rarity, 91% of the fish are age-6 or less.

The commercial fishing sector harvests 25,000 pounds (70%) under a quota. The recreational sector harvests about 13,000 pounds (30%). When unreported commercial landings, discards in other gill net fisheries, illegal harvest and ghost fishing gears are included, it is estimated that the commercial sector is responsible for 85% of mortality.

The mortality in this fishery far exceeds the target level set in the Fishery Management Plan (FMP). In the Neuse River, mortality has exceeded the target for twenty out of the last twenty-one years. Instantaneous fishing mortality in 2014 was 0.71; this greatly exceeded the FMP F Target of 0.25.

To meet the goals of restoring this fishery mortality has to be reduced. Reducing mortality will allow the existing biomass to expand with increasing age structure. Again, those older females produce more and viable eggs. An increased population potentially puts more fish on the spawning ground. Increased numbers of older fish on the spawning ground puts more viable eggs down increasing the likelihood of successful recruitment and the beginnings of building a sustainable wild spawning stock biomass.

How do we reduce mortality? Stop killing so many fish.

With the commercial sector killing 85% of the fish, that is the logical place to start. The NCDMF refuses to cooperate in good-faith to reduce the commercial catch. This is one more example of the DMF managing our fisheries to keep gill nets in the water at the expense of proper resource management. The DMF is about protecting jobs within the division and the only way to do that is to keep as many competing user groups in the fishery as possible. The division is an example of bureaucracy at its worst. They refuse to address this issue until the scheduled review of the FMP starting in 2018 which means a completion/implementation date of sometime in 2020 at best. This fishery no longer has a working FMP. Some feel that the FMP was fatally flawed from the beginning. One person at DMF recently stated that current genetics work is "game changing". Either supplement or proclamation authority can be used to immediately address the needs of this fishery.

In February of this year, there was discussion between the USFWS, NCWRC, NCDMF and academia discussing the potential existence of an endemic (native) spawning wild population of fish in the Neuse and the Tar. This population is so small that successful spawning and recruitment is rare given the current level of mortality and age structure. If such a population exists, it would be no greater than 7%. However, if such a population exists it could be crucial to the recovery of the system. These are the oldest fish in the system, would already be imprinted and have the proper genes for survival. Given the current mortality level, this population would disappear by 2020. To save this population we would need an immediate and drastic reduction in mortality.

If we are willing to give up on the possibility of an existing small native population, there is no urgency to change management strategies to save this fishery. The fishery is gone. It has become pure 100% put-grow-take. It can continue in its current state as long as stocking doesn't stop. Over-fishing will continue to keep a truncated age structure at age-6 or less. The only way that the biomass will increase is for the USFWS to stock more Phase II fish (which isn't going to happen) or that fry stocked up stream successfully recruit and hopefully imprint.

The federal government will not get involved in allocation issues in state waters, commercial take versus recreation take. If the feds tire of this management failure, their answer will be to stop stocking.

Possible Options-

Supplement/Proclamation Authority
Immediately implement a harvest moratorium for the total CSMA like already exists in the Cape Fear portion. During this moratorium, stocking of Phase II fish would stop and stocking of fry on the upstream spawning ground would begin. This would protect any remaining wild fish with endemic spawning potential and hopefully imprint stocked fry for successful spawning migration. This moratorium would last until the FMP is amended in probably 2020, unless the FMP extends it as a management tool.

Status Quo- Existing FMP Management Authority
Continue to stock Phase II fish in the lower coastal portions of the rivers to maintain the current put-grow-take recreational and commercial fishery while beginning stocking of fry on the upstream spawning grounds for imprinting. The risks are that Phase II fish with imprinting problems will compete in the population with the newly stocked and hopefully imprinted fry slowing or preventing recovery. If a small wild population exists it will be lost to fishing mortality before the next FMP review starting in 2018.

I fully understand that for many recreational anglers this two fish daily creel limit is basically the only recreational harvest fishery that exists. It is a shame that flounder, trout and red drum are so poorly managed that we've reduced recreational success to a put-grow-take hatchery based striped bass fishery with a slot and season.

What are your thoughts?





Edited by Rick - 18 October 2018 at 12:15am
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote BaitWaster Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 17 October 2018 at 11:14pm
Maybe SC Santee coastals would be more suitable.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Rick Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 17 October 2018 at 11:38pm
Originally posted by BaitWaster BaitWaster wrote:

Maybe SC Santee coastals would be more suitable.
 

That's been mentioned...and it is certainly possible that after 30-years of stocking Roanoke River genetics that "survival of the fittest" has selected a sub-group from those Roanoke genes that are capable of spawning in the Neuse.  The Milburnie Dam was just removed opening up key historical prime spawning grounds.  Let's see what happens in three to five years...once we get the nets off the juveniles and mature females exist in numbers and size. 

Again- Starting in 2012 the Neuse brook stock was selected from the Neuse and the Tar from the Tar.


Eggs of striped bass Morone saxatilis were collected from broodfish at seven hatcheries
and one wild population representing nine watersheds from Georgia to Canada to determine the
relationship between watershed type and egg characteristics, includingdensity,diameter,oilglobule
size, surface:volume ratio, and lipid content. These populations represented an inland freshwater
lake (Lake Lanier), upland-dominated (high-physical-energy) freshwater rivers (Dan and upper
Roanoke [Staunton] rivers), estuarine-influenced (low-physical-energy) coastal rivers (Savannah,
Pamunkey, Choptank, and Nanticoke rivers), an upland tidal-bore river (Shubenacadie River), and
an upland tidal river (Miramichi River). Water quality parameters varied among hatcherylocations.
Water hardening of eggs occurred within 2.5 h of fertilization. Egg diameter and relative oil globule
size did not differ significantly under ambient hatchery and controlled water quality conditions.
However, eggs from different watersheds differed significantly in several aspects. Eggs from high-
physical-energy watersheds were heavier and larger, and had smaller oil globule sizes, smaller
surface : volume ratios, and larger amounts of saturated and monounsaturated fatty acids in both
the neutral lipid and phospholipid fractions than eggs from slower-moving watersheds. Egg char-
acteristics did not vary with latitude. Differences in egg characteristics likely are the result of
population adaptations to the watershed, but the manner in which these adaptations were produced
was not determined. Our study provides evidence that striped bass stock restoration and enhance-
ment programs should use native broodfish for hatchery production and should return progeny to
the natal watershed.

Nonnative fish stocked in a watershed could conceivably grow and occupy the same habitat as
the wild population, only to suffer reproductive failure as adults. This reproductive failure may be
caused by poor survival of early life stages, which may not be adapted to the rigors of the nonnatal
watershed. If egg density is under genetic control or somehow related to watershed type, we would
hypothesize that the heaviest eggs would be produced in higher-physical-energy (e.g., upland-
dominated) watersheds, while the lightest eggs would be produced in lower-energy (e.g., coastal)
watersheds. If this scenario is true, then reproductive failure could occur by stocking a coastal,
tidally influenced watershed with progeny of a population from an upland-dominated watershed
and vice versa. To test this hypothesis, we investigated whether differences in egg density and other
egg characteristics, such as the surface : volume ratio, relative oil globule size, and lipid content
and type, were related to watershed type.

In general, striped bass eggs from lower-energy systems had greater S:V ratios, an aspect separate
from buoyancy that is likely important to maintaining position within the water column during
embryonic development. A high S:V ratio (Surface/Volume Ratio) translates to increased friction between 
the egg surface and supporting water mass, which creates drag and slows the rate of egg descent through 
the water column. This phenomenon is commonly seen in zooplankton, which reduce their sinking rate by 
increasing drag through surface water friction (Castro and Huber 2002). 

Oil globule size and egg density were correlated with relative energy of the watershed. Mansueti
(1958) reported that the average oil globule diameter of striped bass eggs was 0.61 mm (range
0.40–0.85 mm), and the oil globule size remained the same during early developmental stages. Ex-
cept for one sample of Lake Lanier eggs, and the eggs from the Miramichi system, our results sup-
port his findings in the actual diameter measurements of both egg and oil globule. However, when
the oil globule diameter was standardized to the overall egg diameter, relative oil globule size 
differed significantly with respect to specific watersheds, thereby suggesting that oil globules in eggs
from different watersheds have different characteristics. Eggs from higher-energy systems had
smaller relative oil globule size and heavier (denser) eggs. For example, eggs from the Dan, upper
Roanoke, and Miramichi populations had low relative oil globule size and high egg density. The
exception was the Stewiacke system, for which relative oil globule size was small and test results
suggested low-density eggs. However, the Stewiacke sample was the only wild-caught egg sample tested, 
and the sample size was small. The Stewiacke results are contradicted by the results
of Rulifson and Tull (1999), which indicated high density eggs based on a much larger sample size.
Results of our study clearly show that egg densities and subsequent buoyancy characteristics are
different among populations. Striped bass eggs have been reported as buoyant or semibuoyant,
being found at various levels within the water column and floating easily with little agitation (e.g.,
Mansueti 1958; Hardy 1978). Broodfish believed to have sinking (or more dense) eggs by hatchery
managers were collected from floodplain nontidal or upland tidal watersheds. Fish believed to have
floating (or less dense) eggs were collected from low-physical-energy watersheds, primarily those
discharging into Chesapeake Bay. Buoyancy characteristics are critical to egg survival by giving the
egg the ability to avoid sinking to the bottom and suffocating, or floating to the surface and thereby
becoming stranded on the banks and dying from desiccation. Rulifson and Tull (1999) reported
mass strandings of striped bass eggs on Stewiacke River mudflats at low tide during peak spawning
activity. Whether those eggs remained moist and viable until resuspended by the flood tide was un-
known. Based on the results of our study, a similar problem could be created if fish from populations
with less dense eggs (e.g., Chesapeake Bay origin) were used for stock enhancement of an upland 
floodplain river population, which would normally have heavier and less buoyant eggs. If buoyancy
is under genetic control, theoretically the supplanted fish would grow and utilize native fish habitat,
then produce eggs with characteristics incompatible with the watershed. The result would be a
disruption in the life cycle, ending with no second generation.





Edited by Rick - 18 October 2018 at 9:12am
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote BaitWaster Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 18 October 2018 at 12:53am
Been mentioned for those that read 2003 Issue of North America Journal of Fisheries Management.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote todobien Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 18 October 2018 at 7:59am
Trying broodfish from many different stocks has been discussed. If I remember right there was a very slight upturn in wild spawned fish last year which would indicate that they can successfully spawn IF there are enough spawning sized fish. The Roanoke was struggling until regulations changed and more spawning sized fish were in the system.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote TomM Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 18 October 2018 at 8:38am
Roanoke is struggling now
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote bernpackbkr Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 18 October 2018 at 8:52am
Put all the science aside for a minute.  

It's still crazy to me that commercial harvest is allowed on a fishery is proven to be a put and take fishery stocked with fish BOUGHT AND PAID FOR BY RECREATIONAL DOLLARS.

At minimum, if commercial harvest is allowed, they should be reimbursing someone for the darn fish.  How in the heck is this allowed to happen???  These aren't wild fish.  We know what they cost, someone should be getting a bill for harvested and dead discarded fish...
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote chriselk Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 18 October 2018 at 9:04am
Originally posted by Down East Guide Down East Guide wrote:

Anyone still here?  I was having this conversation with someone today, so cut and paste is easy.   

Striped bass in the Neuse River will never recover for these two reasons:

1)      Bycatch of unattended gill nets and large mesh nets in the Neuse River

 But even if the nets were eliminated…..

 2)      Neuse River (low flow system) has been stocked with brood stock sourced from the Roanoke River (high flow system).  These Roanoke River strain of striped bass will not consistently, successfully spawn in a low flow system like the Neuse.  Furthermore, when they do successfully spawn, they only pollute the gene pool of the native Neuse River strain striped bass.  

 By stocking Roanoke River sourced fish the NCWRC has created a put and take fishery, they need to manage as a put and take fishery not for restoration.

 

George,

I consider you my friend.    Please take my comments in general and not personal.

The question of the origin of Neuse or Tar/Pamlico River can never be answered unequivocally scientifically.  That is because we do not have proven native fish, or native fish DNA to act as a standard in those DNA tests (PCR, followed by DNA sequencing of target genes, or alternatively, PCR followed by RLFP).
What we have are fish or fish DNA that does not match the Roanoke-derived DNA.  We INFER that they came from the Neuse (or Tar/Pam in that case).  They could also have come from elsewhere, or be hybrids of Roanoke and another strain.

If we are stocking Phase II fish (5-7 inches approx), if we detect smaller fish, it would suggest spawning.  It could also mean an (unlikely) influx of fish from, say the Roanoke (but if found upriver, really highly unlikely).  Or if small fry are released upstream in natal homing experiments, this could be their origin. 

The goal of the FMP is not a put and take fishery, but to restore a self sustaining population. Apparently there was significant reproduction or spillover in two recent years. (even a non fishing legislator on out boat caught fish).

Next, if you think stocked fish are  "polluting" the "native" fish, then we should stop stocking them and cease all harvest and bycatch to allow native fish to recover.  

I think the jury is still out on whether Roanoke-derived stocked fish can reproduce in the Neuse and Tar/Pam.  We know that reproduction requires mature fish, larger than the 26 inch WRC size limit fish.  We know that there has been a big influx of two year classes, in numbers that are difficult to attribute solely to stocking. 

Going forward, in my view, perhaps we need to expand the very small juvenile (fry) and egg surveys up river that would document spawning  in detail (I understand there is some being done, but don't have specifics).  It may be informative if we fin clipped all stocked fish and only allow fin clipped fish to be harvested such as done in the Pacific NW salmon and steelhead fisheries.

We should keep in mind that for striped bass, reproduction is highly variable from year to year.  Every 5 or 10 years a great class of fish comes out and it carries the fishery for a decade or so.  We should also remember takes almost a decade for striped bass to become sexually mature and even longer to become "Fat Fecund Females" (Cow) that are the great spawners.  Bass can live decades and be great spawners for decades.

I realize that the new size limit is unpopular.  But with the two robust year classes coming up, it will mean that in about 2 or 3 years, there will be larger fish around if protected from bycatch and harvest.  More importantly, it will allow some fish to reach spawning size so that we can determine without a doubt whether spawning is possible.  Its very difficult to determine this with the very few mature striped bass present.

If it turns out spawning is not possible, then a put and take fishery is fine with me.  Please be advised that if we want a robust put and take fishery, a striped bass stamp program would need to be implemented to pay for the expanded stocking program.

 Regardless of what we end up doing "cryptic"  mortality must be eliminated. to have a self sustaining fishery or a strong put and take fishery.  

Let's try and keep an open mind here as we go forward, looking at each others point of view.  We all want more fish, we just have to figure out the best way to get there.  If we decide to restore the fishery, as I think we should, it will take time, based on the life cycle of these fish.  


The above comments are my personal opinion and do not represent those of any organizations or agencies I may be a member of.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Down East Guide Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 18 October 2018 at 7:29pm
Chris, 
We agree on a lot. 

i think more spillover.   We started seeing these fish the last two years in the lower River.  i have caught more stripers in the lower Neuse the last two years than i have in the last 20 years combined.  I believe spillover from a wildly successful spawn in a high flow system, the Roanoke/Albemarle.   An example of what can happen when they hit it right.  

The reality is that the Neuse is a put and take fishery and the people paying for these fish should have the opportunity for harvest.  

Regardless of cryptic mortality, I do not believe that the Roanoke strain fish in the Neuse River will hit it right enough times to become viable.   I have already come to the point tha restoration is not realistic and we should manage the Neuse as a put and take fishery.  

How do we make that happen?   As long as restoration is the goal or someone's pet project, the public will suffer. 

Let the people catch some fish. 

...... and if restoration is the goal, why in the heck would you direct harvest on the bigger fish? 
 

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote chriselk Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 19 October 2018 at 8:08am
Thanks for your reply G. Yes we agree on a lot.

As stated, I do not believe the question of whether Roanoke fish are able to colonize the Neuse has been answered.  We all know there here are a myriad of factors required for successful spawning, and thats why the Roanoke River spawns are often "meh".  Some factors are known and other are not.  Some known factors have not been rigorously tested, despite some great work by WRC.

At least in the Roanoke there are some sexually mature fish there, the ultimate requirement for reproduction.  

One factor to consider is that the Neuse does have some important new spawning beds, with the Millbrook dam removal.  While the stretch opened up is relatively small I am told that it does have better spawning characteristics than the lowland downstream, including flow.  Admittedly the Neuse will never reach the flow of the Roanoke, but if there is some coordination with water release at Falls Lake it may be possible in some years to have an adequate spawn.  Again, this remains untested.

"..... and if restoration is the goal, why in the heck would you direct harvest on the bigger fish? "

We all know and accept that harvest on bigger fish is a commonly used to allow fish to spawn at least once.  
Obviously, that is the basis for management based on size limits.  

As stated, if an adequate restoration, one that addresses known concerns fails, I will get in line with a put and take fishery.




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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote mattrich21 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 19 October 2018 at 10:39am
To argue the population is gone for good is defeatist in nature and ignores the fact that these fish existed and spawned in the Neuse for thousands of years before we decided to put dams in the river, pump nitrogen and animal waste in the water (remember the hydrilla blooms in the early 90's), and net the living daylights out of them.  

Shoot, my grandma caught them in the 40's off the New Bern waterfront.  I have the pictures.  

Stop all harvest (and stocking if you want) for five years. If the stock doesn't show signs of improvement, you can go back to killing them.  

Give nature a chance to rebound on its own.  


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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Down East Guide Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 20 October 2018 at 7:07am
The Neuse River strain of striped bass is just that, gone for good.   It is what it is.  Doesn't mean that the public can't benefit from a put and take striped bass fishery on the Neuse. 
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote cwilli Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 21 October 2018 at 7:41am
Our States best attempt at fishery management is to spend millions of dollars donated by the recreational fishermen on Striped Bass, while allowing the commercial netting of these fish for “PENNIES ON THE DOLLAR” and then later when the stocks aren’t rebounding to the expectation of scientists, we quickly want to abandon
the effort to proclaim it’s a put and take fishery.

And this is THE BEST fishery management oversight the state of North Carolina can offer? Really? Do you need to be a scientist to figure out that if you are allowing the commercial harvest of a species you are attempting to restore….it actually may inhibit the goal you are trying to achieve. It defies ALL logic and I can't understand why the commercial sector screams about their “heritage”, but does NOTHING to protect a finfish stock that is actually part of their “heritage”. I guess about $30,000 (estimate of commercial value of Striped Bass harvest)is the going price for selling heritage these days.

I guess this is the same set of scientists that omit the commercial shrimping mortality of weakfish data in their own weakfish report.

Sad to say, you just can’t make this stuff up…


Edited by cwilli - 21 October 2018 at 7:43am
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote chriselk Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 21 October 2018 at 9:27am
George,
Which public are you referring to benefiting from the stocking?  Recreational fishermen or commercial fishermen?  Presently , the overwhelming majority end up as dead discards (not harvest) in gill nets before the reach spawning age, which does not benefit anyone.

So would you be in favor of a Recreational Fishing Striped Bass Stamp Program to support a put and take fishery, especially knowing the majority would be dead discards in the gill net fishery?

Asking the USFWS  to continue stocking SB when the majority end up in gill nets before they reach spawning age does not make sense to me.  I don't see this continuing much longer.  

I would be in favor in using those resources elsewhere, perhaps move the stocking program to the Southern region entirely (Cape Fear River).

For those who wish more information from published studies, here is the most recent one on the Neuse by WRC scientists.  Just follow the references and you can see how much information has been published on this subject in the last few years.  

https://afspubs.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1002/mcf2.10038
The above comments are my personal opinion and do not represent those of any organizations or agencies I may be a member of.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Down East Guide Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 21 October 2018 at 11:47am
Chris, 
you don't need a striped bass stamp to harvest stocked striped bass in the lakes.    Just because it's put and take does not mean that you need an additional tax for it. 
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote chriselk Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 22 October 2018 at 7:17am
Of course you don't need a striped bass stamp to harvest in fresh water. Fishing stamps are not a tax.  Some states fund their restoration through (larger) fishing licenses, others through stamps (endorsements).  Washington State, the Uber state for stocking, does both.  There are 150 hatcheries in WA state.

As for fresh water, Gill netters are not killing most of the stripers in the lakes or inland waters.  

Let me be clear here about gill netters.  They are NOT breaking the fishing regulations in the legal pursuit of their directed species.  I do not blame them, its whomever makes those regulations whom are at fault.



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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote todobien Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 22 October 2018 at 7:49am
The way striped bass stocking was handled over the last century I doubt you will find a completely native strain of fish in any river system on the East Coast. They have been mixed and matched.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Rick Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 22 October 2018 at 9:05am
Like many of us have been saying for three years now-  the Fishery Management Plan is a complete failure and must be addressed. 

The goal of the FMP is a complete failure-

3.2 GOALS AND OBJECTIVES
The goals of Amendment 1 to the North Carolina Estuarine Striped Bass FMP are to achieve sustainable harvest through science based decision-making processes that conserve adequate spawning stock, provide and maintain a broad age structure, and protect the integrity of critical habitats.

The original purpose of stocking the CSMA can be found on page 301 of the FMP.  

Specific objectives for stocking striped bass into coastal river systems include attempts to increase spawning stock abundance while promoting self-sustaining population levels appropriate for various habitats and ecosystems.

Also on page 301 of the FMP, one can see that stocking was not thought to be of significant importance.  We now know it is of 90% to 95% importance.

Results suggested striped bass stocked in the Neuse and Tar rivers appeared to contribute little to the spawning stocks in these systems.


How does a put-grow-take fishery meet the goals and objectives of the USFWS Edenton Hatchery?

Welcome to the Edenton National Fish Hatchery
Hatchery Goals
  • Provide Striped Bass (Morone saxatilis) for interjurisdictional fishery restoration of the Tar/Pamlico and Neuse River systems.
It doesn't appear that a pure put-grow-take fishery meets the goal of "restoration".

There are options- move stocking to the Watha Hatchery that is run by NCWRC and supported with Sport Fish Restoration Funds.   There's one problem...Sport Fish Restoration Funds cannot be used to support commercial harvest. 

So what's going to happen?

The 800-pound gorilla is "cryptic mortality".  Current and credible research has found that the system can't produce mature spawners because of gillnet mortality in both directed fisheries and as bycatch in nondirected fisheries such as the anchored large mesh Southern flounder fishery.  Commercial fishing is responsible for 85% of the total annual combined mortality from all sources.  

If you don't address the gill net issue this fishery will never have a chance to recover and become self-sustaining.

If you don't address the gill net issue a put-grow-take fishery will consist of mostly immature fish of which very few will reach the size that would support a fishery of mixed size classes including trophy fish.

What does the DMF need to recommend?

DMF should address what is blatantly obvious-  
  • Red drum is a bycatch only fishery
  • Southern flounder is a depleted stock, and has been for twenty years, requiring reduced effort
  • Millions of dollars are being spent on large mesh gill net management within the Turtle and Sturgeon ITPs
  • Striped Bass management is a failure due to commercial gill net effort- directed and nondirected 
We must prohibit gill nets in the Neuse and Tar Rivers- it makes dollars and sense.

What will the NCDMF recommend?

If history repeats itself, DMF will protect the gill net fisheries at any cost to the resource and the taxpayer.

If history repeats itself, the recreational angler will bear a disproportional management burden when the facts of total impact and economic benefit are reviewed...all to protect gill net fisheries for a few. 



Edited by Rick - 22 October 2018 at 10:37am
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